Coyote Killed After Attacking 3-Year-Old Girl on Cape Cod Beach, Says National Parks Service

The incident occurred around 8:30 p.m. ET on North Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown, Mass., on Wednesday, according to a news release from the NPS

Coyote killed after attacking 3-year-old girl on beach at Cape Cod National Seashore
Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty

A coyote has been killed after attacking a small child on the Cape Cod National Seashore, according to the National Parks Service.

The incident occurred around 8:30 p.m. ET on North Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown, Mass., on Wednesday.

The victim, a 3-year-old girl, was taken to Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis with what officials described in the NPS news release as "non-life-threatening injuries."

Responding Rangers identified and shot the coyote, which later died. The animal was located the following day and eventually tested negative for rabies.

This is just the latest reported occurrence of coyote aggression toward humans in and around Provincetown. Park Rangers have responded to various incidents involving coyotes seeking food from people, the NPS said in an update on Saturday.

"This behavior starts with people feeding the coyotes intentionally by leaving food out, or inadvertently by not removing food scraps and packaging from the beach," the agency said in the release. "This leads to the animals becoming habituated and bold in attempts to obtain food."

It continued: "When wild animals lose their fear of people, they behave unpredictably and aggressively, resulting in injuries to people and a sad ending for the habituated animal."

In late July, another incident made national headlines after a New York woman fought off a coyote for 10 minutes during a hike on Race Point Beach in Wellfleet.

Marcy Sterlis, an assistant principal in New York City, escaped uninjured after fisherman Andrew DeCarton and boat captain William Kelley came to her rescue. DeCarton, who filmed the incident on his cellphone, said Kelley managed to distract the animal long enough for the victim to flee.

"I just got up and I started screaming and pushing at him with the stick," Sterlis told independent Boston station WHDH. "I was in a battle with this coyote for about 10 minutes... That coyote was not giving up."

"The captain took one of our oars and started slapping it on the side of the boat," DeCarton told the outlet. "The noise really seemed to kind of deter him. You could tell that this animal was very hungry and very persistent."

At one point, Sterlis said, the wild animal was about a foot away. "It was a little too curious because it wasn't responding to my screams to get away from me or shaking at the stick," she told WFXT.

This also marks the second time Park Rangers have killed a coyote at Herring Cove Beach in 15 months. The last occurrence was in May 2020 after a coyote bit a visitor on May 23 of that year. A coyote also killed a puppy in the same area on May 25, though it was not made clear if it was the same animal that attacked two days prior.

The NPS blamed humans feeding the coyotes for those incidents as well. "Unfortunately, scenes like this play out frequently in national parks," said Superintendent Brian Carlstrom at the time in a news release.

"People don't understand the implications of approaching or feeding wildlife, often leading to tragic consequences for the public and the animals," he added.

The agency reiterated that message on Saturday: "Keep wildlife wild. Protect your safety and the safety of others. Do not feed or attract wildlife!"

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